Plenty has been happening on the 2021 Vodacom Durban July front, with a couple of highly fancied entrants scratched, adjustments to the merit ratings and plenty of shuffling on the ante-post betting boards.
Ace trainer Mike de Kock appears unlikely to have a runner in the country’s top race this year after he withdrew his two entries, Malmoos and Barahin, following their unplaced finishes in the Premier’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein.
Boom horse Malmoos started as the 5-4 favourite for the Grade 1 race but could manage no better than fifth, 6.50 lengths behind winner Got The Greenlight. Barahin was a bad last.
Joe Soma’s Got The Greenlight, 2020 July runner-up, has been elevated to 5-1 favourite for this year’s renewal following his sparkling performance in the Challenge. Early July favourites Belgarion, Rainbow Bridge, Kommetdieding and Summer Pudding have all eased.
Another heavily fancied July entry, filly Captain’s Ransom, has also been withdrawn from the big event on 3 July. Despite her facile win in the Grade 2 WSB Fillies Guineas at Greyville at the weekend, trainer Justin Snaith announced he and owner Suzette Viljoen had opted to go for the exclusively female Garden Province Stakes on July day instead.
This leaves Snaith with 10 of the remaining 50 July entries. Among these are last year’s July winner Belgarion and two-time July champ Do It Again, who will open their Champions Season campaigns on 16 May in Greyville’s WSB 1900 – one of the traditional Durban July preps. Belgarion has slipped to 12-1 after topping the boards a few weeks ago, while Do It Again can be had at 16-1.
Got The Greenlight had his merit rating hiked from 124 to 128 after blitzing both Malmoos and Triple Tiara heroine Summer Pudding. The latter finished fourth in the Challenge and trainer Paul Peter said her participation in the July would be discussed with owner Jessica Jell.
Peter did confirm a July bid with the three-year-old filly Netta, a runaway winner of the 2000m Gerald Rosenberg Stakes on Champions Day. Netta’s MR rocketed up from 102 to 120 after she scooted in by six lengths at 7-1 and consigned hot favourite Running Brave (another July hopeful) to fourth place.
On the Guineas day card at Greyville, Cape Met hero Rainbow Bridge could hardly have been more impressive in winning the 1400m Drill Hall Stakes. However, the handicappers kept his MR at 134, using complicated reasoning that involved third-placed Ultra Magnus running to his full potential and therefore qualifying as the handicap “line horse”.
A July candidate that did get a MR bump in Durban was Linebacker, who comfortably won the 1600m WSB Guineas. He went from 115 to 124, while third-placed Kommetdieding went from 117 to 120.
The way all this played out in the betting rooms was Linebacker leaping to 6-1 second favouritism in the July, with Kommetdieding slipping to 7-1.
Vodacom Durban July betting:
5-1 Got The Greenlight
15-2 Rainbow Bridge
12-1 Belgarion, War Of Athena
14-1 The Gatekeeper
16-1 Do It Again, Summer Pudding
20-1 Second Base, Golden Ducat
33-1 Russian Rock, Rascallion, Princess Calla
40-1 and upwards the others